The Major League Baseball Draft is just two months away. With college baseball season in the midst of conference play, and high school seasons throughout the South and West Coast already 20 games in, we are getting a better idea of which top prospects are performing up to their potential.
Jim Osborn (Lil Jimmy, as he’s known here) has been doing a terrific job of keeping us updated on players that aren't receiving a lot of press. One thing remains sure with this upcoming draft: College pitching is the strength, and for the teams selecting in the Top 15, there are plenty to choose. What is discouraging with this class is the lack of top-tier collegiate positional players.
On June 12, we'll cover the Chicago White Sox first-round selection live on the third annual South Side Sox MLB Draft Show. Leading up to it, we'll be holding mock drafts to project where players could land to help formulate a better idea of who the Sox could be picking with the 11th selection.
Before releasing our first mock drafts, here are the topics we think will impact how the draft goes in June from our email conversation.
Josh: Alright, Jimmy. Who are the players you think have legit chance to be selected #1 by the Minnesota Twins?
Jim: The Twins and who they take is going to be tricky this year. Trying to see a pattern for their previous drafting won't work because the Twins have a new front office. Currently, Hunter Greene is a popular choice. I don't see it. High school pitchers at No. 1 is not done. Plus the kid has leverage, and I think the Twins would want to sign someone under slot. There is no clear best player, so I see them cutting a deal with a college player: J.B. Bukauskas, rhp, North Carolina signed under slot on a pre-draft deal.
Here is a question for you about Brendan McKay, 1b/lhp, Louisville.
Does he go to an AL team and pitch and DH or is he a better fit in the NL because the pitchers have to bat?
Josh: I agree with you on the Twins going college pitcher with pick No. 1, and I have them taking Brendan McKay. Offensively, he has been very productive for the Cardinals hitting .388/.508/.633 this season with five home runs. He could be a major league starting first baseman, but I think his pitching ability is what will get him to the bigs sooner. If along the way McKay were to hurt his throwing arm, the Twins have an excellent backup plan in place putting McKay back in the field.
If he doesn't go to the Twins at No. 1, I still think an AL team will pick him (Tampa at #4) and develop him as a starting pitcher.
We both agree that the Twins go college pitcher at No. 1. Hunter Greene is considered the top prospect in this class. Where do you see him landing?
Jim: I believe Hunter Greene ends up in San Diego. He's from just north of there. Their fans would scream if they passed on him. He could be the face of the team in no time at all. He is a good-looking kid and I think he moves up fast.
Speaking of moving fast.
Which player from this draft class will be the first to make an impact on the Major League level?
Josh: I'm going with J.B. Bukauskas. When I've gotten the chance to watch his starts, I'm very impressed his fastball and slider. I think both are plus pitches that could be major league ready. Just like it seems with almost every college pitcher, it'll take some time for Bukauskas to have a better feel for his changeup. If the Rays select him No. 4, that would be a fun pairing to see Jose De Leon and Bukauskas lead the rotation, whether or not Chris Archer is still there.
Which player do you think is not getting enough credit or publicity but is Top-15 draft material?
Jim: Bukauskas is a very good choice.
Keston Hiura is listed by MLB at No. 37. There is no question in my mind that when they update, he will be in the top 15. He has an elbow injury that forces him to DH. When healthy he is a 2B/OF. Hiura plays for UC Irvine so he isn't hidden away. He has one of the best hit tools in this draft with developing power and might be off the board when the Sox pick.
This draft is rich in college pitching. How many will be off the board when the WS pick at No. 49?
Josh: I've got six college pitchers off the board before the White Sox pick at No. 11. For their second-round pick, I'm thinking 10 college pitchers will be off the board. Which is fine because in the second round I think the Sox should be in safer territory selecting some of the college positional players in that range.
Who do you see the White Sox taking at pick 11?
Jim: As of today... Jo Adell could still be on the board. If so, I can't pass him up. Could be a star.
Josh: I also went with Jo Adell. It would be something if the White Sox were able to sign Luis Robert and draft Adell, that's an excellent start to rebuilding the outfield.
Jim: How far does Seth Romero fall?
Josh: He's a top-10 talent that has maturity issues. Being suspended from the team twice is not a good look, and I'm sure plenty of MLB teams will weigh these incidents heavily while grading him. Romero has been very impressive before being kicked off the team, and if he wasn't, I think he could have been the fourth college pitcher selected after McKay, Bukauskas, and Alex Faedo. I'm glad the University of Houston is doing the right thing and keeping him away from the team to straighten out his life. At the moment, I have him going No. 15 to the Astros, but I wouldn't be shocked if drops to the second round. Romero's mistake could cost him millions.
Finally, who do you see as the most overrated player in this class?
Jim: The player I have no confidence in is Brady McConnell.
Here is our Top 15 Mock Draft V1.0.
SSS Mock Draft Version 1.0
|Team||Jim Osborn||Josh Nelson|
|Team||Jim Osborn||Josh Nelson|
|Minnesota Twins||JB Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina||Brendan McKay, LHP/1B, Louisville|
|Cincinnati Reds||Jeren Kendall, OF, Vanderbilt||Hunter Greene, RHP/SS, Notre Dame HS (CA)|
|San Diego Padres||Hunter Greene, RHP/SS, Notre Dame HS (CA)||Royce Lewis, SS, J Sierra HS (CA)|
|Tampa Bay Rays||Alex Faedo, RHP, Florida||JB Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina|
|Atlanta Braves||Royce Lewis, SS, J Sierra HS (CA)||DL Hall, LHP, Valdosta HS (GA)|
|Oakland Athletics||Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt||Alex Faedo, RHP, Florida|
|Arizona Diamondbacks||DL Hall, LHP, Valdosta HS (GA)||Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt|
|Philadelphia Phillies||Tanner Houck, RHP, Missouri||Tanner Houck, RHP, Missouri|
|Milwaukee Brewers||Brendan McKay, LHP/1B, Louisville||Alex Lange, RHP, LSU|
|Anaheim Angels||Hans Course, RHP, Dana Hills (CA)||Jeren Kendall, OF, Vanderbilt|
|Chicago White Sox||Jordon Adell, OF, Ballard High (KY)||Jordon Adell, OF, Ballard High (KY)|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||Keston Hiura, 2B, UC Irvine||Tristan Beck, RHP, Stanford|
|Miami Marlins||Brendon Little, LHP, Manatee JC (FL)||Hans Course, RHP, Dana Hills (CA)|
|Kansas City Royals||Nick Pratto, 1B/LHP, Huntington Beach (CA)||Pavin Smith, 1B, Virginia|
|Houston Astros||Alex Lange, RHP, LSU||Seth Romero, LHP, Houston|